Introducing Teams – just another collaboration app?
By Colin Williams
Over the past 12 months or so, we’ve seen Microsoft extend Office 365 plans with value-added applications – in general these haven’t added cost, but for some users they make the plans more appealing.
“Microsoft Planner” – for simple project and task management
“Microsoft Bookings” – for self-service bookings for the likes of hairdressers and car repair shops
“Microsoft Sway” – for online presentations
These apps all have generic appeal across a range of businesses, they are fairly simple and all have a multitude of SaaS competitors and in most cases, competitor offerings will be more comprehensive and functional. The key point is that these are bundled with Office 365 and very accessible for users without having to leave the Microsoft Office 365 camp – for this reason alone, these products will gain adoption.
With communication being a universal challenge for businesses with more than one person, the latest app to be added to Office365 is a collaboration tool – Microsoft Teams. I think this has had more investment than any of the other apps mentioned and is well integrated into Office 365. Microsoft has put in lot of design work to build this utility, it has a lot of functionality and is seriously worth a look if you have teams across offices, countries or homeworkers.
So, what is Teams?
Teams is a new collaboration platform, it’s well made and is pretty easy to use. Part email, part sharepoint, part Skype for Business – in fact, it converges many of the best features of the Microsoft collaboration tools together. If you are part of a team and working together on something – this really is a genuinely great tool to help your team be more effective.
As a user you can create teams and join multiple teams. Each team can have multiple “Channels” – each channel can have conversations between team members running within it. Aside from conversations, each team can also have documents stored within it – no need to open or send attachments, docs are available right within the conversation. If you have say a PowerPoint or spreadsheet, which is the central point of discussion – you can easily reference it within a tab and it will appear right there for you to see.
If you’ve used Slack or Hipchat, Teams is a take on this type of technology. It allows for easy and quick conversation when needed. You can see whether your team members are online, and if you need to have a discussion, it handles video conferencing, desktop sharing and voice calling – all from within the teams app.
Aside from working well from all browsers, Teams also has an installable client app for Windows – install this and Teams drops in nicely alongside Excel, Word and the rest of your Office apps. Always available and part of your desktop. It doesn’t stop there, Microsoft has also created apps for both Android and iOS platforms.
Handling the change
Introducing a product like Teams into your business can be challenging. For most businesses, email is out of control – like it or not, the inbox has a lot of power over people. It was hard for some businesses to adapt to using email over written mail, it’s similar when getting people to transition some communications away from email and into collaboration tools such as Teams.
With persistence and commitment, I think businesses will get a lot of benefit out of Teams. To help with the adoption, Microsoft has created a whole site dedicated to the deployment of Teams. You can take a look at https://www.successwithteams.com for videos and guidance on your deployment.
Bringing humour into your conversations
A few years ago we had an engineer by the name of Jonny – he had an incredible talent that allowed him to find the right meme for every occasion, many people missed Jonny when he returned to Ireland. With Teams, Jonny is virtually back - there is an online library of GIFs, memes and stickers that can be searched instantly and inserted directly into your conversations. Ironically, this has probably been designed as a productivity booster for the modern enterprise.
What does the future hold?
Teams is in a pretty competitive space, but the adoption level of Office 365 and the fact that this product is pretty well made means that Teams already has immense volumes of users. My biggest gripe is that I can’t collaborate with Office 365 users outside of my organisation – this is high on the feature list for delivery this year.
Find out more
If you're interested in finding out more, we can offer the following advice:
1. If you’ve got Office 365, let Lucidity help you get Teams activated – it’s an easy process and you can be online quickly
2. If you don’t have Office 365 – we can get you started with a free trial